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The Engine of ComplexityEvolution as Computation$
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John Mayfield

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231163040

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231163040.001.0001

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The Problem

The Problem

(p.10) 1 The Problem
The Engine of Complexity

John E. Mayfield

Columbia University Press

This chapter addresses the following questions: How is Earth different? What is information? What is an evolutionary system? What constitutes scientific understanding? How does computer science fit in? How is purposeful complexity explained by science? It shows that all objects can be divided into two categories: Type I based on simple rules, and Type II requiring additional complicated rules, or instructions. By making this division, the exceptional complexity characterizing the planet Earth is seen to consist entirely of Type II objects, their behaviors, and their consequences. The division focuses our attention on instructions and also requires that we explain where the information in instructions comes from. Type II objects have another characteristic: they can always be seen in terms of some “purpose” or “fit.” Thus, the origin of purpose is to be found in the processes that create Type II objects.

Keywords:   Earth, information, evolutionary system, scientific understanding, computer science, instructions, purpose, Type I objects, Type II objects

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